Format: 147 x 220 mm
In a Nutshell:
Amaia has just turned sixteen – for the eighth time. Amaia desperately wants to find out why her family ages so slowly and why she does not resemble any of her five siblings, but her parents do everything to preserve this family secret – constantly moving from place to place, strict rules and thought control included. Amaia sees her opportunity when her elder brothers bring home a captive one day: the mysterious and dangerous Noar, who is as little human as they are. But then Amaia’s family is attacked and suddenly Noar is their last hope: he leaves the human world with them and takes them to Cassardum, into the kingdom of the dead, where Amaia finally finds her answers amidst intrigue, armies, landscapes that come alive, unreal creatures and powerful royal clans – and loses her heart.
Amaia has been living on a French vineyard with her family for a couple of days. They are hiding there, because Amaia and her family are special. They do not age like normal people and they can influence people with their will. Amaia does not know why this is the case. All her investigations come to nothing because her parents want to keep this secret at any cost – constant moving from place to place and brainwashing included.
One day her father and her two elder brothers capture a stranger on their site. Although the parents try to take their children’s memory of the man, Amaia manages to withstand their will. She creeps secretly into the cellar and questions the captive with the name Noar. The questioning is interrupted by an attack in which Amaia’s parents are killed. Noar saves the siblings and brings them to Lazar, who appears to be pulling all the strings. He reveals to them that they originate from Cassardim, the kingdom of the dead, in which seven peoples pursue their ancient vocations: accompanying the souls of the deceased through the dancing fog, taking them over the eternal river and judging their deeds before the golden court, after which they then enter a new life above the floating cliffs, or are punished or rewarded for their deeds in the shadow kingdom or the silver fortress.
The kingdom is ruled by the golden emperor, who has demanded a princely child from each of his princes as a pledge to their loyalty.
Amaia and her siblings are these children. Until now they had been kept hidden, but now they were to return to their homeland. Pursued by chaos and other dangers, Noar leads them through the fog into the underworld. During this journey, Amaia falls in love with Noar, but just before he delivers the siblings to the imperial court, he forces his will on them and makes them forget that he and Lazar were part of their fleeing. However, Amaia secretly succeeds in withstanding his will. While she is being prepared to be presented to the court and her true parents, she tries to find out what role Noar is playing in this story.
Amaia is forced to realise helplessly that Noar is also deeply enmeshed in the intrigue at the court, because in reality he is the crown prince of the shadow fortresses. His whole being seems to have changed. He behaves arrogantly, coldly and mercilessly. Even so, he keeps seeking out Amaia’s company and even saves her life from an assassination attempt.
At another celebration, Lazar suddenly appears and causes a great tumult, because he turns out to be a wanted high traitor who is supposed to be partly responsible for the death of Emperor Fidrin’s son. Before he can be led away, he reveals to the court gathering that Amaia is not the princess of the silver fortress, but the granddaughter of the golden emperor who was believed to be dead. To prove this, Amaia must now face a dangerous test of will. Furthermore, Prince Ifar asks for her hand in marriage, as he wants to seize the imperial throne through her.
But Noar thwarts him by claiming to have preceding rights, as Amaia has already accepted a gift from him. Despite the attraction that Amaia still feels for Noar, she has not the remotest interest in marrying the conceited crown prince of the shadow kingdom. However, her grandfather concords with the engagement to Noar, which subjects Amaia to new dangers, especially when she passes her test and therefore becomes the heiress to the imperial throne. Emperor Fidrin, however, has no plans to abdicate, instead he blackmails Amaia and the captive Lazar to find Cassardim’s lost jewel, which Amaia is supposed to have hidden as a young girl before her parents had lost their lives in a revolt.
At the time, Lazar had taken away her memory, feigned her death and ensured that she was hidden in the human world as a false hostage. With Lazar’s help, Amaia finds the jewel that stores all the memories of its bearers. She thus finds out that Emperor Fidrin is the mastermind behind all the evil machinations and is holding her father – his son – captive in the depths of his palace. But Noar is also part of the memories and shares responsibility for what Amaia had to suffer. Horrified with the truths that she has found out, Amaia overlooks that she has now become an acute danger for Emperor Fidrin. He accuses her of high treason and wants to have her executed. At the last moment, Noar helps her to flee. Away from the golden mountain, he lets down his cold mask and declares to Amaia that he loves her and only wanted to protect her with his behaviour. The two of them become closer and now forge a plan together for how to topple Emperor Fidrin.